I love animals, but I am not a dog person. Until a couple of months ago, I had lived over 44 years without ever having a dog in my home, and I was perfectly content with that. But then a neglected, malnourished, love-starved puppy came wandering into my life, and everything changed. I now have a puppy, and he is more work and more joy than I ever could have imagined. Learning to live with what I had thought was unacceptable has provided me with immeasurable rewards.
I have no issue with spiders. I find them to be quite beautiful, actually, and I appreciate them because they – simply by being what they are – keep other, somewhat less desirable insects at bay. My husband tolerates spiders for the same reason, but one would be hard pressed to say that he “appreciates” them. Still, he and they co-exist peacefully, in deference to their service to the household. Learning to see the blessing in welcoming one who may not be altogether agreeable has provided us with benefits otherwise unattainable.
I have come to understand that the animals that surround us play a very important role in our lives, as teachers. From the deer that walk through our gardens munching on our carefully cultivated hydrangeas and the puppy we invite into our home chewing up our favorite pair of shoes, we learn a great deal about the virtue of patience and our own capacity for tolerance. From the bees that may sting our children, but facilitate the proliferation of exquisite blossoms, and the spider that may bite, but aids in keeping the rest of the “pest” population under control, we learn that appreciation of their natural gifts often outweighs that which we might otherwise find distasteful. For every creature we come in contact with, there is a lesson to be learned.
How can we use these lessons to benefit our relationships with each other – our fellow human beings? Patience, tolerance, appreciation for what gifts they have to offer, even in light of quirks and foibles (or opinions and actions) that rub us the wrong way… We all live in this glorious Garden together, interdependent. How can we focus our attentions on respect and compassion for one another to foster peaceful coexistence in the world?